Woman whose boyfriend was killed in an accident urges the judge never to let another driver behind the wheel

A woman who was involved in a 2018 motorcycle collision with her boyfriend – who died in the crash – told the judge she had found forgiveness with the other driver charged with driving under the influence of marijuana until she learned about the driver’s history. the man. Now she asks the judge to never let him behind the wheel again.

The other driver, Freddie Lee Slater, 55, of Gainesville, was charged with manslaughter by drunk driving in the 2018 crash. Police say he was under the influence of marijuana. A judge withdrew his bail last month during a hearing at the Alachua County courthouse after prosecutors learned he had been charged last year in Bradford County with driving without a valid license.

A jury trial was tentatively set to begin next week, though Slater’s lawyer asked the judge to delay proceedings because the defense team said it was missing as many as 10 reports from fire and rescue workers responding to the 2018 crash. The judge, William Davis, did not immediately comment on the request.

“Personal and medical observations of Mr. Slater, as well as interviews and statements gathered from all other persons involved in this accident, are critical information that must be gathered before the trial takes place,” Slater’s attorney, public defender Aaron Kelley, wrote. .

The case stems from the 2018 crash that resulted in the death of Jeffrey Delong, 28, of Clermont, Florida. According to authorities, Slater was driving a 1998 Lincoln Towncar on 234 County Road near Micanopy when he encountered a stop sign at the intersection with US 441 and turned into the path of Delong’s motorcycle. Delong, who was not wearing a helmet, was pronounced dead at the scene.

A toxicology report released a month after the crash found that Slater was under the influence of marijuana at the time.

The passenger on the motorcycle, Alaina Johnson, was wearing a helmet and suffered disabling injuries, authorities said.

The day of the crash was Mother’s Day and Johnson’s 25th birthday. She said Delong and they were on their way home from church, and she was about six weeks pregnant with Delong’s child with two young children still at home who are not related but are close to Delong. The baby, a girl, was born about eight months later, in January 2019.

“I can never put into words how it broke me inside when the paramedics on the scene told me Jeffrey didn’t make it,” she wrote to the judge last month. “I never knew until then what a scream and crying sounded like at the same time.”

In her letter, she described her anger towards Slater over allegations that he was driving under the influence. She said she suffered fractures in her ankle, foot and toes, plus nerve damage. She said she eventually forgave Slater — “people are people, they make mistakes,” she wrote — and then learned about his other traffic violations. She had changed her mind.

“It was then that I realized that he clearly has no regard for anyone,” she wrote to the judge. She asked that Slater never be allowed to drive again and asked the judge not to agree to further delays in the trial.

Geico, Johnson’s insurance company, paid her $50,000 in 2019 to cover the damage from the crash. Geico in turn sued Slater to recover that amount, and another judge agreed with that ruling, but it’s unclear from public records whether Slater made that payment.

Slater’s attorney said in a statement that the crash was an accident, not a crime.

There was no alcohol involved in this accident at all and no drugs or alcohol were found at the crime scene,” Kelley said in the statement. “The state’s case rests entirely on one witness’s opinion of the possibility of attenuation because a cannabis metabolite was found in Mr. Slater’s system following the accident. That view will be challenged and refuted by the defense expert, and by witnesses and observers.”

Slater was also cited for not having proof of insurance, using a license plate number that was not assigned to the car he was driving, and using a stop sign. Due to insufficient evidence, he was acquitted of the insurance and stop sign charges. Prosecutors dropped the license plate charges in 2020.

According to Driving Laws in Florida, a first conviction for driving while intoxicated with bodily harm requires a mandatory three-year license revocation. A DUI manslaughter conviction requires a mandatory permanent revocation. What happens to a driver’s license between violation and trial is less clear.

While Davis, the judge, initially ordered Slater not to drive in his 2020 arrest warrant, Slater was able to get his driver’s license back while the case remained open. In a first appearance warrant issued after his initial arrest, Slater was instructed not to drive unless he had a valid driver’s license.

In the past four years, Slater’s license has been suspended and reinstated several times due to back child support payments and his inability to pay civil fines and sentences, his attorney said.

Slater may have been able to get a deprivation permit allowing him to drive while his case was adjudicated, it is likely that a deprivation permit would have been revoked after he was caught driving with a suspended license in 2021.

Slater’s last suspension came in March when he was cited for careless driving after crashing into a parked car. His driver’s license was reinstated less than a month later, court records show.

“I just want to get this over with and close this chapter of my life,” Johnson, the crash survivor, wrote to the judge. “I’d love to get my closure, whatever that looks like, and move on.”

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